This third installment in a chronology discusses how I identified the parents of Andrew, Charles and Furman of White City, Morris County, Kansas, and their brother, Wes, and summarizes what I knew of the family as of 2002.
In part two of this series, I first presented my research question, a relationship question seeking the identity of the parents of four Carson brothers, all of whom were thought to have been from New Jersey originally, and three of whom lived in the vicinity of White City, Kansas in the early to mid-1900s. Following additional research, I refined the question slightly:
Who were the parents of Andrew, Charles and Furman Carson, residents of Morris County, Kansas from 1900-1920, and their brother Wes, location unknown?
All research questions will govern both the sources consulted and steps undertaken to determine the answer to a focused question, and such is the case with my research. The first step described in my prior post was to consult the 1870 New Jersey census. I located a household in Mercer County, New Jersey that matched up with what I knew of the Carson family up to that time.1 The extracted information from that census entry appears below:
The fine print from the 1870 census form tells us that Census Day that year was June 1st, so this should represent the household composition and ages as of that date.
We do not have explicit statements of relationship in any Federal census before 1880, but we can hypothesize that Caroline was the mother of all the children listed with the Carson surname. The identity of Lewis Rainear and his relationship to the Carsons was a mystery then and remains so to this day.
When I filtered the information to include only those individuals named Carson, and re-arranged the list in chronological order, it became easier to see the regular spacing of the children’s birth years. To arrive at the estimated birth years, I simply subtracted the age from 1870. Although this basic method does not take into account all the many nuances (and correct estimates will encompass a broader range) this gave me a quick idea of what time frame I was dealing with. For a comprehensive discussion of age calculation, see the recent article by Dr. Barbara Levergood entitled “Calculating and Using Dates and Date Ranges” in the March 2014 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.
To gather more information about the Carson family, I looked for their 1860 census enumeration in New Jersey, since that is the stated birthplace of Caroline and all of her presumed children. One census household in 1860 looked very promising when compared with the 1870 census entry for Caroline Carson and children.
Composite image of the 1860 census household of Charles and Caroline Carson, West Windsor Twp., Mercer Co., New Jersey.2 Highlighted individuals were included in the 1870 enumeration. The “do” notation in column 10 means “ditto” and represents “New Jersey” as a place of birth, carried down from higher up on the page.
Note the points of commonality when the data are correlated between the two census years.
The 1860 census revealed two other possible family members: a male head of household named Charles Carson, and an older boy, 13-year-old John W. Carson. These two additions may be Caroline’s husband and the elusive Wes Carson, identified by my grandmother as a brother of Charles [Jr.], Andrew and Furman Carson. Note that a presumed daughter (Amanda) is missing. If she was 11 years of age in 1870, she likely would have been a part of the household in 1860 as a girl about one year of age.
I next turned to the 1850 New Jersey census and located this entry for Charles and Caroline Carson in adjacent Monmouth County.
Composite image of the 1850 census household of Charles and Caroline Carson, Upper Freehold Twp., Monmouth Co., New Jersey.3
Extracted household information:
Dwelling 219, Family 219
Charles Carson, age 26, male, labourer, born New Jersey, cannot read and write
Caroline Carson, age 21, female, born New Jersey, cannot read and write
Wesley Carson, age 4, male, born New Jersey
I updated my table with this new information.
Census research on Charles and Caroline Carson as a couple ended at this point since both would have been too young to have appeared as heads of household in their own right in 1840.
Beyond census research, in 2002 I had located one additional record that mentioned Caroline Carson and a presumed daughter by name, living at the same address in Chambersburg: an extracted entry from the 1881 Trenton City Directory.
Carson, Amanda, 112 Madison, Chamb’g
Carson Caroline, widow, 112 Madison, Chamb’g4
Other names of interest from this city directory, which probably represent the entries for the other children of Caroline Carson, are as follows:
Carson Andrew, laborer, h Fillmore n Clinton, Millham
Carson Furman, farmer, h 1212 Broad, Chamb’g
Carson John W., wool worker, h 826 Hamilton, Chamb’g5
It should be noted this same directory also contains two entries for Charles Carson. One of them is probably the listing for the son of Charles and Caroline, but the other entry is likely for yet another man named Charles Carson living in the vicinity. Our Charles Carson was supposedly dead by 1881.
Carson Charles, laborer, bds 622 Second
Carson Charles, wool worker, h 170 Lamberton6
Having analyzed the information contained in each of these sources, and after careful comparison of that information, I was able to make these statements which can be crafted into research questions and be proved or disproved by further research.
- Caroline and Charles Carson likely married about 1845, possibly in Monmouth County, New Jersey where the couple resided in 1850.
- Charles Carson pre-deceased his wife. Caroline Carson was called a widow in 1881, but Charles was not present in the census household in 1870. Given the fact that no children appear to have been born to the couple after about 1861, it is possible that Charles died closer to that date. Caroline was still a young woman of child-bearing years, and it is unlikely she would have abruptly stopped having children if her husband was still present in the household. Examine the possibility of Civil War service for Charles Carson.
In the period represented by the 1850 – 1870 censuses, the Carson family was found in three townships in two counties. The townships of Upper Freehold, West Windsor and Hamilton are contiguous although they span county borders.
Research on this family is on-going, and much additional information has been gleaned in the past twelve years. In my next post I will discuss how I found others researching this family, and how we determined the date and circumstances surrounding the death of Charles Carson. If you have information on this family you would like to share, please use the associated comment form found by clicking on the title of this post.
Sources and credits:
Image credit: Topographical Map of Mercer Co., New Jersey by F. W. Beers (1872), courtesy David Rumsey Map Collection online at http://www.davidrumsey.com via a Creative Commons 3.0 license. Annotated by the author to mark townships of interest.
1 1870 U.S. census, Mercer County, New Jersey, population schedule, Hamilton Township, p. 82 [stamped], dwelling 270, family 268, Caroline Carson in Lewis Rainear household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 Dec 2013), citing National Archives microfilm publication M593, roll 871.
2 1860 U.S. census, Mercer County, New Jersey, population schedule, West Windsor Township, p. 89 [penned], dwelling 676, family 696, Charles Carson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Jun 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 697.
3 1850 U.S. census, Monmouth County, New Jersey, population schedule, Upper Freehold Township, p. 351 [stamped], dwelling 219, family 219, Charles Carson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Jun 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 457.
4Fitzgerald’s Trenton and Mercer County Directory (Trenton, N. J. : Thomas F. Fitzgerald, 1881), 135; Trenton Historical Society (http://www.trentonhistory.org : accessed 22 Jun 2014).
5 ibid. 135, 136.
6 ibid. 136.